Learning happens everywhere all the time.
We imagine a world where school is not so much a place of learning but a hub of learning. We envision this learning hub as home base for an educational experience enmeshed with the land and community surrounding it. A safe place from which children become explorers of the world. A place to bring back observations and objects for more in depth study. A place where older people share life experience with younger people. And where young people find guides for their explorations.
We imagine a world in which caring for children happens in community. We imagine the town of Catskill as a community where the work of children (play!) is intertwined with the work of adults. In our vision, school becomes one place among many where a community cares for its children together.
We imagine a world where human relationships of all kinds, including those between children and adults, are grounded in mutual respect and a spirit of cooperation. In this world, school is place where children, families, educators and community members from diverse backgrounds come together as peers and collaborators. It is a place where children and adults support one another in developing individual interests intertwined with a deepening awareness of how our choices affect our relationships and the world.
To operate a cooperative school in accordance with our vision and values in Catskill, NY with sliding scale fees, initially open to children ages 3-6.
To offer options for homeschooling families, after school and summer programs, and evening/weekend family and adult events in collaboration with programming during regular school hours.
To initiate conversations within our community about learning, school and childcare and how these relate to creating the world we want to live in.
To support a culture of decentralized and community based learning and childcare in Catskill, NY.
Accessibility and Diversity. We are committed to making our programs accessible to people of all cultural and economic backgrounds, gender expressions, abilities and life choices. This commitment stems from our belief that this is a just and equitable way to organize a school, and that a diversity of life experiences within a learning community is necessary for a meaningful education.
Play. We believe that play is a foundation of learning. Play is essential for developing social understanding, and self-regulatory skills. Through play and storytelling children expand their understanding of their experiences. Play contributes to literacy and numeracy, speeds language acquisition, and sustains the human spirit.
Connection to Natural Processes. We believe that exploring and understanding our relationship to the natural world is a vital part of the learning experience. This is how we become careful stewards of the land we inhabit and the resources we use.
Connection to Social Processes. We believe it is important for children and adults to understand themselves as part of a web of human relationships. This understanding gives us the ability to recognize injustice, to reflect on social and political issues, question current institutional arrangements, and see ourselves as social innovators and creators.
Physical Work. We believe that all humans should have access to the skills necessary to meet their physical needs and shape their environment. We believe that children are never too young to be a part of a community and should be tasked with work that matters. At Catskill Wheelhouse this means children will garden, build, forage, cook, clean, sew and work with tools and, as much as possible, this work will have real and immediate value to our school community and beyond.
Cooperation. We believe that the ability to balance one's individual needs with the needs of a group and the ability to create and act collectively form the foundation of healthy communities. This is reflected in how we curate learning experiences, the collaborative nature of our decision making processes, the involvement we expect from families and how we interact with the larger community.
Conflict Resolution. We see conflict as an opportunity for growth. We are committed to creating a safe school environment where expectations are clear and conflicts are mediated in the moment.
Whole Child, Whole Person. We see learning as a holistic process and the body, mind and spirit as integral.
Resiliency. We believe all humans should have the opportunity to develop a strong sense of self, leading to a greater ability to weather life's trials great and small. At Catskill Wheelhouse we want children to feel both challenged and capable.
Curiosity Driven Learning. Humans are innately curious. We believe that the most meaningful learning is led by this internal drive. This is reflected in our learning environment where children become the protagonists of their educational journey.
Constant Experimentation. At Catskill Wheelhouse there is no set pedagogy. Instead our values, mission, and vision guide the development of a curriculum which is constantly emerging as adults, children, families, and contemporary educational practice bring new information and experiences to the learning environment. A commitment to mutual aid, cooperation, self governance, and sensitivity to injustice inform the decisions we make together.